Tyson, the happiest camper.
Summer is nearly upon us, and with it vacations. In my house, no one looks forward to the family summer vacation more than the dog. Whether your idea of relaxing summer travel is a rental on the Jersey shore or hiking in the Canadian Rockies, bringing the whole family along, including hirsute quadrupeds, is part of the fun. Here are a few things worth keeping in mind.
Be ready for bureaucracy.
States have rules which are worth checking before you travel. This USDA website provides links to information on animal requirements by state. For most of our patients here at Animal Kind, this will relate to rabies vaccine requirements. It is always advisable to bring your friend’s current rabies vaccine certificate with you when you travel together. If it is not easy to find, just give us a call and we can provide you with a copy right away.
Airlines have their own sets of rules regarding pets and travel. Many of them require a domestic health certificate for travel within the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. This document can be issued by any of our veterinarians after completing a physical examination of a patient. It is dated at the time of the exam to serve as an official documentation that the animal is healthy for travel. It is important for you to check with the airline about any time restrictions they may place on this document. Usually, they want it issued no more than 10 days before your flight. Also worth verifying prior to travel are the airline’s rules regarding kennels and temperature restrictions. Much of this information is available online. I found these links for American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue.
If you are traveling internationally, you must abide by the rules of your country of destination. As you might have guessed, these requirements vary widely. The USDA has a lot of information online, but we strongly recommend contacting the consulate of your destination because this is by far the most reliable way to find out what preparations you and your veterinarian need to make. Our experience has been that some nations’ online information lags considerably behind current regulations. Though it is far from impossible to bring your furry friend out of the country, you do not want to wing it. Allow as much time as possible, as some countries require considerable waiting periods between beginning the process and allowing travel. As soon as you have information from the consulate, Animal Kind can provide you an appointment with one of our veterinarians certified by the USDA to help you complete the necessary forms and procedures for international travel.
Microchip administration syringe.
Who are you anyway?
ID is more important than ever when traveling. Microchips are safe, widely recognized, and permanent identifiers for cats and dogs. They are now often required prior to international travel. If your companion does not have one, I strongly recommend it before you head out on your adventures. Microchip placement is quick and can be done during any outpatient appointment here at Animal Kind. If your friend does have a microchip already, take a moment to confirm that it is registered to you and that all of your contact information is up to date. We are happy to scan your friend and to give you the chip number and registration contact information if you have any doubts.
Do not forget the humble collar. Keeping an ID tag around your friend’s neck clearly identifies him or her as owned and minimizes the amount of technology necessary for a good Samaritan to get them back to you. Even a rabies tag contains a unique number and the telephone number of Animal Kind or whichever veterinary office administered the vaccine.
Bring home snapshots and suntans, not parasites.
Warm weather, plants in bloom, and more time spent outdoors make summer ideal for parasite transmission. Luckily, parasite control has become easy, effective, and above all safe. Cats need protection against external parasites (Advantage, Frontline Plus, or Seresto collar). Dogs need effective flea and tick control (Frontline Plus, Advantix, Seresto collar, Bravecto, or Nexgard) and protection from internal parasites such as heartworm, roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm (Interceptor, Heartgard, or Revolution). It is important to understand that internal parasite control requires dosing shortly after exposure, so the most important dose you give may be the month after your travels. Make sure to cover your bases before you leave town.
To drug or not to drug, that is the question.
Getting there is the worst part of vacation for me and many pets agree. The two most common traveling problems our four-legged friends experience are anxiety and nausea. If either of these is a significant problem for your pal, there are a number of medication options that may help.
Available over the counter, the bach flower preparation, Rescue Remedy is quite safe and is believed by many to decrease anxiety. Its effects are not profound, but I do believe it will help a somewhat anxious dog or cat traveler.
Feliway is a pheromone spray shown to decrease anxiety for many cats. It is available without a prescription and may be worth a try on your feline friend’s travel carrier.
Diphenhydramine, commonly referred to by the brand name Benadryl, is an antihistamine. In some dogs, it may produce a mild sedation and decreases nausea. It does not usually have this effect on cats, and I would not recommend giving it to a worried cat since it can cause a paradoxical excitation. If you would like to consider it for your dog, I recommend consulting your veterinarian.
Control of even the worst car sickness has recently gotten much easier. Prescription, non-sedating nausea control medications are now available through your veterinarian. These medications can be safely prescribed for most of our patients if needed.
Prescription sedative options are also far more varied than in recent times. Obviously, they should only be used if needed and are only prescribed for patients who have been recently examined to make sure such use is safe and appropriate. We are always available to see you for an appointment if your traveling partner needs something more than gentle reassurance. Be aware that some airlines do not allow sedated pets to travel.
Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.
As all of us who share our lives and tiny living spaces with them know, cats and dogs are intelligent, complicated, and frequently opinionated members of the family. This means that some of them, my cat and Evangeline for example, find any type of travel to be akin to torture. That does not mean that she has to be forced to participate in what seems to her to be a walking tour of the more desolate parts of Dante’s Inferno, and it does not mean that the rest of the Morehead family is permanently housebound. It just means that we spend a bit of time apart. Fortunately, Brooklyn abounds with conscientious pet sitters and reputable boarding kennels. Also available for patients of Animal Kind who are undergoing treatment, our hospital offers medical boarding on site.